This morning Missouri Times Publisher Scott Faughn sat down with Democratic Senate candidate Trudy Busch Valentine at her home in St. Louis County.
She was very open about her family, her family’s loss of a child to addiction, and how she would view her role as a United States Senator.
The issue that became contentious was her support of a woman’s right to choose. There was a vigor and a determination that rose up in her while she was discussing the overturning of Roe. vs. Wade.
Missouri Times: So tell me why you’re running?
Busch: Because I saw how broken our politics are and how divided our politics are. We have families that won’t even talk to each other. I talked to three sitting Senators and they were talking about infrastructure, affordability and crime. I am interested in those exact things. I want to help people, strengthen the middle class and make our state stronger to help them live the American dream.
Missouri Times: Is there a bigger, bigger story, the American dream in your family?
Busch: Yeah, it’s an American dream. But everybody can live the American Dream.
Missouri Times: Well, there’s a lot of teamsters that also lived that American dream because of your family.
Busch: You are so exactly right, because my dad ran a company that employed union workers. And I’ve heard over and over. And even when I’ve been in hospice, nursing, even when I’ve been in pastoral care and sitting by people’s beds, they talk about the jobs they’ve had and their families have had at Anheuser Busch, and how grateful they’ve been for those. And they had good salaries. They had a great ability for insurance. And they’ve had pensions, and they’ve been able to send their kids to college or to trade schools. And they have been proud of where they worked, and that they have been able to live in American dream.
Missouri Times: So your family has a history of being both Democrats and Republicans. Why are you a Democrat?
Busch: Because I was raised as a Democrat, because my dad knew President Roosevelt. He knew President Truman, President Truman was at Grant’s Farm. We have all those pictures, President Truman and Mrs. Truman rode in the Adolphus train to the inauguration of Kennedy with my mom and dad. And, and my parents also supported Kennedy. And they supported President Johnson so much and knew him so well to and they’ve loved the senators that we’ve had, like Senator Eagleton, and like Senator Symington, and my dad has just been a patriot, a true patriot, who served in the Army as a colonel, and who fought for equal rights for people, including in baseball. When we were out at Spring training in the ’60s and dad saw that Black players and white players weren’t living together. He said, “Hell with this. We’re gonna build a hotel so our players can live together.”
Missouri Times: What have you learned from spending four months visiting with the people of the State of Missouri? What has surprised you?
Busch: I have learned so much. It’s been incredible observing and seeing and hearing from the people of the state..And that is what I’ve loved the most. I’ve been able to talk to so many people throughout Missouri, listen to the issues that they’re concerned about, and listen to their hopes and dreams. And people are good throughout Missouri. Good things are happening but people are falling through the cracks because of affordability problem, and because of health care that is not affordable or, or equal for everybody.
Missouri Times: The topic I hear the most about from Democrats around the state is abortion & the overturning of Roe Vs Wade.
Busch: The extremist Republican agenda has gone too far. A complete abortion ban is extreme. The fact that Missouri politicians may even go so far as to stop women from traveling out of state for abortion is unreal. Children who are raped having to take a child to term is extreme. The overturning of Roe v. Wade has taken us back 50 years and the opinion may open up even more extreme judicial actions such as taking away the rights of the LGBTQ community to marry.
Missouri Times: The people of Missouri vote overwhelmingly pro-life, do you plan to respect your constituents’ views on abortion in the United States Senate?
Busch: I don’t think we should be taking away the rights of women to make choices with their doctors.
Missouri Times: You know, when I was thinking of how to ask this next question, I thought, boy, it’s easy for me to say, being a man from the bootheel, a white Christian guy, all the boxes that of if you had privilege. But you know, I look at St. Louis, and the clinic is just, practically speaking, it’s about eight or nine exits down the road in Granite City where they provide abortions. A year ago in Missouri, a woman was pretty well harassed for three days before she could have an abortion. If she went to Granite City, she could have an abortion that day. Tell me, practically speaking, is it that big a deal just to go to Illinois?
Busch: The problem with just going to Illinois is that our state government might end that ability to go to Illinois, and have the right to choose. I think this overturning of Roe v Wade is going to hurt a lot of people’s rights. And we have very archaic laws in the state of Missouri, about when people can get abortions. And that includes the children who are raped or people that are raped, or children who are abused sexually, in any which way, still have to carry a child. And I think that’s completely wrong.
Missouri Times: Addiction is something that has touched every corner of Missouri & Missourah. Your family has suffered from addiction. What have you learned through those struggles that you could use in policymaking to help the county stem the tide of addiction?
Busch: It has given me the ability to connect with other people. We need to get rid of the shame and stigma of addiction and we need to talk within our families so that people can get the help they need. We need to talk so that people know there are options outside of self-medicating.
We should make drugs like Suboxone and Vivitrol more available. I will fight in the Senate to make those treatments more affordable.
Missouri Times: I asked some folks on Twitter what they would like to ask you, and my buddy Adam Sommer from Heartland Pod suggested, “What do you think the role of a U.S. Senator is to the state?”
Busch: It is to know the people of the state. Knowing what they are facing, what firefighters and nurses are facing. To know the local elected officials and have a relationship with them so that I know what the needs of their communities are.
I think it’s getting to know the people in Missouri, just as we talked about in the beginning, getting around Missouri, knowing the people in the suburbs in the urban areas, knowing the people out of the rural areas, knowing what’s going on, and what they’re facing, knowing what firefighters are facing, knowing what nurses are facing, what policemen are facing, all those things. But also relying on the state representatives, the state senators, and the mayors to know their constituents better than me, because those are the ones that I will have to listen to, in order to get things that they need passed at a federal level.
Missouri Times: We’ve had different styles of senators from the state of Missouri. You mentioned Symington and Eagleton but, in more recent history, we’ve had some legendary senators in Senator Bond and now, you’re replacing an absolute legend in the State of Missouri in Roy Blunt. It seems as though there are two types of senators, there are ones that do things that actually make our state better like the Rocheport Bridge or the NextGen Center at Mizzou, then there are senators that prattle on Facebook for attention. What kind of senator do you want to be?
Busch: I want to be a working Senator, I want to be here for the people of Missouri, and again for our country to meet, keep our democracy strong, and our voting rights sacred. Those are so important to the United States of America. And I will work for people, I will listen to people, I will try to be rational, and sensitive. I will be a strong person in the United States Senate. And I will bring people together to bring out the best in each other. And I will walk across the aisle to try to work with my Republican colleagues. Because I believe that we need to work together to get anything done. And now all we’re seeing is division. We’re seeing fighting, we’re seeing egos, and we’re seeing people that don’t really seem to care about the people in our state, our country.
Missouri Times: What makes you a better choice for democrats than Lucas Kunce?
Busch: I’m bringing the heart of the nurse and the ability to work with other people to get things done.
Missouri Times: So right now, when you talk to anybody, they talk about inflation. I mean, things are damn hard on folks. You know a little bit about managing money. What could you do at the federal government level to help folks who are hurting? It literally costs more to live than it did two years ago. What can the federal government do to change it?
Busch: Congress has to work together to get something done. President Biden is trying to get something done. We need to bring down costs. We need more affordable housing, more affordable renting options, and more affordable groceries. We need to get rid of the food deserts.
Missouri Times: So tell folks why you’re a better choice for democrats than Lucas Kunce. He seems to have taken a different strategy over the weekend and has begun attacking you. Why are you the best person to be the Democratic nominee?
Busch: Because I am strong and courageous and I will stand up for people’s rights. I’m coming in as a nurse who cares about people, someone who has an open heart and mind to people and to serving others, and who’s a rational person that can work with other people.
Missouri Times: My last question, you’ve got to see probably more of the state than most folks will in the last few months. What’s been the favorite you’ve visited that you’ve never been to before?
Busch: That’s a good question, because there are a lot of favorites. But I would say Monett was a great town. I loved the people. They were so interested in politics. They were so interested in change. They’re interested in democracy. The older women I visited with were so interested in a woman’s right to have a choice.
Missouri Times: I really thought that decision never get overturned. And I just never really considered that would actually happen. Do you think some folks that just didn’t think much about it thought about it for the first time when it actually became something real? It was no longer a theoretical thing?
Busch: I think, absolutely. I don’t think anybody thought it could be overturned, I never thought it could be overturned. And the and the justices on the Supreme Court who said in Senate hearings that they would not overturn Roe v. Wade, were the ones that overturned Roe v. Wade. We’re becoming a political court. We’re not a court that’s fair and open and honest and listens to all sides of issues.
Missouri Times: Well, I’d bet you cold frosty Budweiser that that teacher would want cheaper gas rather than care about climate change. But maybe you reverse that back on abortion. Is there not an argument that five years from now the people who were not particularly concerned with abortion will feel differently when they don’t have access to abortion?
Even though very few women took advantage of it, it was theoretically there. I don’t think most folks would ever have an idea of the things you have to go through in Missouri to get an abortion until they tried to get one. But now that it’s not available. Five years from now, I think you could see a very different view from the people of this state on abortion. Is that democracy at work?
Busch: We’re seeing that now. More young people are seeing their rights are taken away. Young people that grew up with this ability to choose if they needed to, and I’m all for birth control. I’m all for contraception. But women have still believed and my daughter, and younger daughter is a nurse practitioner. Younger people have always had this right. And they see this right being taken away and they see other areas where rights can be taken away. And I think that’s going to change everything. Because we have a whole new generation that’s growing up, a generation of women and minorities that want equal rights and freedom.
Missouri Times: Thank you for your time. I appreciate the visit.
Featured Image: Trudy Busch Valentine and Scott Faughn. (The Missouri Times)
Scott Faughn is the publisher of The Missouri Times, owner of the Clayton Times in Clayton; SEMO Times in Poplar Bluff; and host of the only statewide political television show, This Week in Missouri Politics.